This is it — the final day of racing at Del Mar’s 37-day summer meet. Where has the time gone? Seems like just yesterday that we could hear the roar of the crowd as the track where the turf meets the surf opened the gates for its first race of the meet on July 21.
As we prepare for today’s final card, which includes 10 races for the fourth consecutive racing day (who said there was a horse shortage, huh?), the jockey title is still up for grabs between defending champ Joel Rosario and Rafael Bejarano.
Bejarano holds a 54-53 edge over Rosario heading into today’s action and both riders will be plenty busy. Rosario has mounts in all 10 races, including Western Mood in the $250,000 Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity, and Bejarano is scheduled to ride in nine of the 10. He’ll be aboard the promising Indian Winter in the Futurity.
It was quite a holiday weekend of racing at Del Mar (should we call it the John Sadler Tour de Force?), beginning with Call a Kelly’s impressive come-from-behind victory in the $250,000 Darley Debutante on Saturday, a win that sets up the 2-year-old filly for a start in the Oak Leaf Stakes on Oct. 3 at Hollywood Park.
On Sunday, of course, we had Twirling Candy’s highly controversial victory in the $300,000 Del Mar Derby and, three races later, an impressive victory by Switch in the Torrey Pines Stakes.
All three horses are trained by Sadler, who’s won a meet-high five stakes and had saddled 37 stakes winners at Del Mar in his career — good for eighth on the track’s all-time list.
Much was made of the fact that Twirling Candy blatantly fouled Summer Movie in the Del Mar Derby and was not disqualified, but lost in all the controversy was the fact that the 3-year-old Candy Ride colt cost himself a lot of ground and yet still won by 3 1/4 lengths while running the 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:46.96. It was an extraordinary effort by a colt who’s won his four races without defeat by a combined 14 lengths.
After the race, Sadler said Twirling Candy will run in the Goodwood Stakes at Hollywood Park on Oct. 2, presumably as a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6.
Switch is one of the top four 3-year-old fillies in the country. She beat Blind Luck in the Hollywood Oaks at Hollywood Park and deserves to be ranked right up there with the Kentucky Oaks winner, Evening Jewel and Devil May Care.
The Torrey Pines victory was Sadler’s fourth consecutive in the race and fifth overall and gave Rosario his meet-high eighth stakes victory.
The winner of today’s Del Mar Futurity should be watched closely in not only the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile but also next spring’s 3-year-old classics.
The past three winners of the Futurity — Lookin At Lucky, Midshipman and Georgie Boy — were as talented as any 2-year-olds around, and there are some top juveniles scheduled to run today, including favored J P’s Gusto, Jaycito, Major Art, Western Mood and Indian Winter.
I like Indian Winter, an Indian Charlie colt, to win the race. He broke his maiden over Del Mar’s Polytrack on Aug. 21, rallying from fourth in a six-horse field to win by a half-length for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, running the six furlongs in 1:11 1/5. I think he’ll improve off that effort and be tough to beat today.